Birthday Tote Bag and Gift Ideas

Birthday Tote Bag with Gifts by Ruffles and Rain Boots

This summer, I’ve really focused on sewing projects to gain confidence in the craft because I have so many ideas and almost zero knowledge of how to actually sew them. 

I know I could take a class, but I don’t want to stop crafting in order to take the class… You’re gonna need a spoonful of sugar to swallow that bit of silliness, right? But it’s true – I don’t want to sit through a class, online or otherwise right now. 

After getting two advanced degrees, you’d think I wouldn’t be so averse, but it’s not the fact of of parking my behind for an hour or two in a “classroom.” It’s more that I have very limited time to “adult craft” (crafting without a 2.5 year old on my lap), so I want to produce something during that time. 

So, here comes my little sister’s birthday, and I knew I wanted to sew her a purse. Reading what you just did, you can see the problem: I had never sewed a bag before and it was bit intimidating for my beginner-stage sewing self.

After a TON of searching, a lot of head scratching, and a healthy dose or two of deep breathing, I was able to modify a tutorial and adapt it to what I wanted. 

Before we get to the bag, I made my sister a couple of small gifts that I stashed inside, thinking she could use some pampering for her birthday. Using tutorials – hey, those are kind of like a classroom, right? – I was able to use the brilliance of others to ease my sewing anxiety.

The first gift I made was a vintage-inspired head band, using this tutorial by Liz with Momtastic. My sister has an adorable short hair style (that I’m currently coveting in this heat), and I thought this would look great with it. 

It wasn’t too hard to make, although it was a bit more labor-intensive than I originally thought. Think “carpel tunnel inducing” because you have to turn those skinny, little strips of fabric inside out… Ouch.

Once it was sewn and I gave my hands a break, I wrapped it around a piece of patterned paper-covered cardboard and stuck it inside the bag. 

Vintage Headband by Ruffles and Rain Boots

Another gift I made for Becky was an eye mask because she travels all the time for both work and play. Using this tutorial from Sewing Lab, I am going to make another one of these for myself because I absolutely love the one I made her!

Instead of using cotton for both sides of the mask however, I used black satin on the skin-side. Satin ‘luxes it up a bit’ and it always feels nice and cool against the skin. The black satin, in particular, will hide make up smudges. Win-win, right? 

For gifting, I wrapped the eye mask around another piece of patterned-covered cardboard and added a small tag. If you’re going to make this as a gift, feel free to use this tag I’m offering as a free printable. I printed mine on 4 x 6 photo paper instead of card stock – I just love how the photo paper gives the chalkboard background depth. 

Satin Eye Mask Tutorial by Ruffles and Rain Boots

The last bit of mini-gifting was a set of lavender sachets. I’ve written about these here but I use the tutorial (sort of) from here. I hand-embroidered –okay, I tried to hand-embroider — some hearts on one of them. They sort of look like hearts, right? 

Lavender Sachets Tutorial by Ruffles and Rain Boots

Now, back to the bag… 

The original bag I wanted to make for my sister was this tutorial by Ashley at Make It and Love ItI really liked the look and size of the bag, but I needed to make a few changes. 

Here’s a tote bag tutorial (with gifts to pamper) that is sure to please!

In order to make it more purse-like, I made some changes to her tutorial. I added more structure with an interfacing, added some very basic straight line quilting to the lining, and made some small additions.  Small additions like a key ring, a magnetic closure, and pockets make a big impact in changing a tote bag to a purse. Even if a gal has a purse organizer, pockets always come in handy! 

How to make a tote bag a purse by Ruffles and Rain Boots

Well, that’s it for this birthday bag for Becky. I hope she likes it and gets to use it before our summer is over. In the Pacific Northwest, fall could be here tomorrow! 

Easy Tote Bag Tutorial and Gifts by Ruffles and Rain Boots

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